Letters to the Editor

Letters: Ky. education improving; A Trump diagnosis; Deficit out of control

Rosa Parks Elementary School students Dillon Jenkins, left, and Eshaal Tatla, worked together in a fourth-grade social studies class in September. The Lexington school is one of the top 10 elementaries in the state in student performance in reading and math.
Rosa Parks Elementary School students Dillon Jenkins, left, and Eshaal Tatla, worked together in a fourth-grade social studies class in September. The Lexington school is one of the top 10 elementaries in the state in student performance in reading and math. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Ky. education improving

There’s a common belief among many Kentuckians that our schools are performing near the bottom of national rankings. In the past, that was true. But more recent rankings place us near the middle. U.S. News ranks us 24th; USA Today ranks us 28th and Education Week gives our schools a grade of C.

The National Assessment of Education Progress places our fourth graders in a category of “significantly higher than national” in reading.

Many factors should be considered in measuring student achievement; standardized tests provide a small part of the picture. But they make up a significant part of state-by-state comparisons. Being in the middle of the pack isn’t good enough. We aspire to be at least in the top 10.

Before we can get there, we need a realistic view of where we are now. Parents and educators deserve a tremendous amount of credit for the improvements we’ve seen. We need to support them better, because demoralizing self-perceptions only hamper further progress.

Greg Drake

Lexington

Sounds like Trump to me

While reading a book about the traits of psychopathic murderers, I came across a “psychopathy checklist” developed by Robert D. Hare, who has investigated the subject in depth. Below is his list of eight personality traits of a psychopath:

▪ Glibness or superficial charm.

▪ Grandiose sense of self-worth.

▪ Pathological lying.

▪ Conning or manipulativeness.

▪ Lack of remorse or guilt.

▪ Shallow affect (shallowness of emotional display).

▪ Callousness, lack of empathy (also includes lack of compassion).

▪ Failure to accept responsibility for one’s actions.

If you add narcissism, smugness, arrogance and self-righteousness, you have a perfect and complete, although quite disturbing, description of President Donald Trump’s personality. Let’s hope his time in office will run out before he succeeds in dismantling the foundations of our democracy.

William S. Watts

Lexington

More checks and balances

The president’s 2019 budget calls for cuts of $15.3 billion to Medicare and $6.5 billion to Medicaid. Republicans have proposed raising the eligibility age for Social Security and have made no secret about their desire to “voucherize” Medicare.

Sen. Mitch McConnell wanted to try to repeal the Affordable Care Act despite voters’ concerns about preserving its protection for those with preexisting conditions.

Republicans persist in blaming the $779-billion deficit on programs like Medicare and Social Security, which are mainstays for middle- and low-income Americans, despite the GOP having just passed a budget-blasting tax cut for corporations and the wealthy. Much of the spending on Social Security and Medicare is covered by payroll taxes or premiums.

Our country needs checks and balances in government in order for all voices to be heard. Gov. Matt Bevin and the state legislature jammed through a pension reform bill, allowing little time for members to read it. This is a perfect example of how one party in power can result in abuse of power. The following day outraged teachers in Kentucky stormed the Capitol to protest pension changes.

Frances Strange

Bardstown

Our not-so-great deficit

Those tax cuts that went mostly to the wealthy and corporations have not paid for themselves, as promised. While we are told there is a robust economy, the federal treasury does not seem to be benefiting from this prosperity. We fell for “trickle-down” economics once, so why are we so foolish to believe that it would work this time?

Money to the rich only makes them richer. Money to corporations has resulted mostly in stock buybacks. Yes, some large companies gave well-publicized bonuses to workers, but very few have upped the hourly wage.

Instead of accepting responsibility for blowing a hole in the national budget and the current explosion in the deficit, government leaders would blame communities that had nothing to do with creating this problem. This sounds like the old “starve the government” theory to force retrenchment in social programs many of us rely on.

We are not “great again” if our debt is astronomical and the answer is to cut programs that keep us safe, ensure things work equitably, fulfill obligations and provide assistance for those in need.

Philis Alvic

Lexington

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